Changing the ISS attitude to maximize science return of the SOLAR payload
Van Hoof, D.
Control momentum gyroscopes
European Space Agency
International Space stations
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The Solar Monitoring Observatory, or SOLAR in short, is a payload of the European Space Agency that resides on one of the external platforms of the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). The two operational instruments on-board the payload are designed to measure the solar irradiance in the wavelength range 16 to 3000nm. However, due to its unique location and because of the mechanical constraints of the platform, observations are only possible at most two weeks a month, for not longer than 20 minutes per ISS orbital revolution. Since the SOLAR mission will be operational for an almost complete solar cycle, it will provide data on the long-term evolution of the Spectral Solar Irradiance, important for, among others, atmospheric science. However, in order to study the short term variability it is important to have measurements covering a complete solar rotation. During the winter and summer solstices the time between two consecutive observation windows is the shortest. By changing the ISS attitude by only a few degrees from its standard Torque Equilibrium Attitude, this gap in the observations can be bridged. Between 30 November and 12 December, 2012, the ISS roll, and mainly yaw (about 7.5°) were modified, allowing the SOLAR instruments to monitor the Sun for more than 35 days in a row, covering a complete solar rotation. This event is historical as it was the first time ever the ISS rotated exclusively for a scientific experiment. The change of the ISS attitude was reached by solely using the Control Momentum Gyroscopes and did not negatively affect any of the other external payloads. This minimal effort resulted in a great scientific benefit. During this extended observation period data of the solar spectrum were intensively collected. A more complete dataset of the solar irradiance will contribute to a better understanding of the effect of the solar variability on the Earth's atmosphere.
CitationJacobs, C.; Van Hoof, D.; Wislez, J.-M.; Sela, A.; Michel, A.; This, N.; Klaï, S.; Karl, A.; Boyd, A.; Moreau, D.; Muller, C.; Steinicke, L.; Thuillier, G.; Foujols, T.; Bolsée, D.; Schmidtke, G.; Erhardt, C.; Nikutowski, B.; Brunner, R. (2013). Changing the ISS attitude to maximize science return of the SOLAR payload. , Proceedings of the 64th International Astronautical Congress 2013 (IAC 2013), Beijing, China, 23-27 September 2013,